Pope Francis has expressed his sadness at the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian that tore through the northern Bahamas last week and urged the international community to provide “prompt and effective assistance” for the affected people.
The devastating category 5 storm made landfall on 1 September on the northwest of the archipelago with wind gusts reaching up to 354 km/h and sea surges of 4 to 7 meters, becoming the strongest tropical cyclone on record.
While causing widespread devastation, the storm has killed at least 44 people.
Writing on behalf of Pope Francis, who is currently on the last leg of his apostolic visit to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin sent a telegram of condolence to Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.
“His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the devastating impact Hurricane Dorian on the Bahamas, and he expresses his spiritual solidarity and deep pastoral concern to those affected by this catastrophe,” said the message that Archbishop Pinder posted on the archdiocesan webpage.
Cardinal Parolin wrote saying the Holy Father, “offers heartfelt prayers that Almighty God will grant eternal peace to those who have died and consolation and strength to the homeless, injured and suffering.”
“Expressing his hope that the international community will respond with prompt and effective assistance,” the message said, “His Holiness invokes upon all engaged in this massive work of relief and rebuilding the Lord's is of strength and generous perseverance in the service of their brothers and sisters."
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has launched an urgent appeal for $4 million to scale up its humanitarian response and address the most immediate needs of children and families across the Bahamas, including access to safe drinking water and sanitation, nutrition, psychosocial support and non-formal education activities.